The Darkness #109
Published by Top Cow Productions
Written by David Hine
Illustrated by Jeremy Haun
$2.99, 32 Pages

After recreating the world, Jackie Estacado was purged of the Darkness creating a doppelganger of himself.  Since then, this vile monstrosity has bided its time, allowing Jackie to think that he's in control, all the while carefully hatching its plan.  Now things start to come together.  The Doppelganger visits Jackie's top lieutenants, infecting them with a form of the Darkness like a virus.  He's creating an army, but what is he going to battle against?  The safe bet would be rival mobster Balakov, who is possessed by an ancient evil that claims to be older than even the Darkness.  

The various pieces of Jackie's fractured life start to come together in this issue.  There's a moment where Jackie, the Doppelganger, Balakov, Jackie's wife Jenny, his daughter Hope, and former wielder of the Darkness Aram the Witch-King are all in the same room at the same time.  Author David Hine literally put all of the main characters on the page and surprisingly, they didn't just kill each other.  Quite the opposite actually.  They reach a sort of stalemate.  At first it looks like Balakov has come to enact revenge on Jackie's family, but it's quite different.  These people are important to him and they play a role in how this monster can exist in this world.

I'm continually impressed every month with The Darkness.  It's a character study of a man whose life is falling apart.  The perfect world that Jackie has created is flawed and it cannot continue in its current state.  At its heart is Jenny, Jackie's wife whom he brought back to life.  How can such a good deed be punished so severely?

Jeremy Haun draws some really creepy monsters.  I cringe every time I see Balakov on the page.  He has five disgusting tentacles bursting from his chest with a glowing red eye at their center.  It's bloody and gory and looks incredibly painful.  Due to the nature of this issue, Balakov can look a little silly at times because he's just standing there with all these tentacles floating about.  He's far more intimidating when he's rushing in for a kill, but when he's just hanging out he looks like a guy in a very impressive Halloween costume at a party that hasn't gotten started yet. 

I love the effect that Haun gives the Doppelganger when he spreads the virus.  He puts his hand out and spiked tendrils whip out.  You don't actually see him touch his victims.  You see the aftermath in the blank eyes of the infected, but the actual act is left to the imagination.







Hellboy in Hell #2
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written and Illustrated by Mike Mignola
$2.99, 28 Pages

Hellboy's journey through Hell is just beginning.  He's been picked up by a strange guide to show him around, but he doesn't like what he sees.  Hellboy has fought against his destiny for ages, rejecting the fact that he could rule in Hell.  This issue literally shows us his throne, crown, and army, lying in wait for him to step up and lead.  He wants nothing to do with it.  Despite this, he's shown visions from his past, specifically his birth.  Needless to say, he's not having a great time down there.

Mike Mignola has a talent for setting the mood of a comic.  He does it extremely well with numerous panels that contain no dialogue.  It just gives you an idea of the tone of the book.  Unfortunately, this can lead to a slow burn with a story.  That's what I'm getting with Hellboy in Hell so far.  I'm loving the comic, but I get to the end of the issue and want so much more from it.  I feel like I just start it and then it's over.  I want to spend so much more time with this story.

Mignola's art works hand-in-hand with the story.  He's a great storyteller and knows when to let his images do the talking.  He can convey so much in a single panel, even if it's just a shot of Hellboy looking towards his guide through an abandoned temple.  You get a lot from these shots.  They establish the scene. 

Hellboy in Hell is pulling from a number of different pieces of mythology and literature with this issue.  We've got references to Macbeth, A Christmas Carol, and some of your basic Bible bits to name a few.  Mignola weaves all of these in seamlessly, making them work with his story.  I'm interested to see where Hellboy's journey takes him next. 






Fatale #11
Published by Image Comics
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Sean Phillips
$3.50, 32 Pages

Fatale continues with a series of one-shots, the first of which being The Case of Alfred Ravenscroft.  We're given a different view of Josephine with this issue.  Men still go crazy at the sight of her, willing to take a life or put theirs in danger just to be by her side.  What's interesting is that she doesn't seem to know why.  She finds a magazine featuring a story written by Ravenscroft when she hides in a basement after a brawl breaks out between some men vying for her attention.  It turns out the author has been writing a story about her nightmares so she seeks him out in an effort to learn more and finds something far scarier. 

As with most issues of Fatale, I'm left with more questions than answers.  I still don't know what Jo is or why she's capable of doing what she does.  Despite this, I love this comic.  It's so easy to just fall into this world that Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have created.  Everything feels natural, including cults and Cthulu-like creatures. 

Speaking of which, I'm convinced that Phillips is some sort of time-traveler and he used to draw comics and covers for dime novels decades ago.  His work looks classic and beautiful.  He can bring the scary too.  There's a scene where Ravenscroft is reminiscing about his time with a cult.  He's reading a strange book when red eyes and tentacles appear behind him.  The creature grasps him just as someone walks in and distracts it.  This whole scene makes up about four panels but it's easily the scariest part of the comic and it's a simple setup. 

This issue is bookended with Officer Nelson looking for a way out after he's ruined his life in an attempt to be with Josephine.  He killed his partner and went on the run with Jospehine, but now she's gone and he has no idea what to do.  The story helps frame Jo's struggle to understand herself.  It doesn't let you forget the fact that she destroys men even though she might not be doing it intentionally.






Mars Attacks Popeye One-Shot
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Martin Powell
Illustrated by Terry Beatty
$3.99, 24 Pages

IDW kicks off its latest crossover event with Mars Attacks Popeye.  The idea is that the Martians are going to stop by a number of the IDW licensed properties and...well...attack.  The first stop is whatever shanty town that Popeye lives in.  They swoop in and immediately get mind-controlled by the Sea Hag and sent to destroy the sailor and his friends.  Then Popeye eats spinach and you should probably see where this is going.

Here's the thing.  I don't give a shit about Popeye.  I could not care less about this sailor or his weird mutant arms.  Does anyone born after 1940 actually care about this character?  I don't know why IDW is trying to revitalize him with a new comic, let alone pull him into a new crossover.  It's an old bit that died decades ago.  Plus, he talks really weird, which might work in a cartoon, but is a pain in the ass to read in a comic.  I felt like I had to get dumber to read this.

Anyway, Terry Beatty drew Mars Attacks Popeye.  He got the overall look of the character and his world, so if you like Popeye, you'll like the artwork.  It's light and cartoony and harmless.

I know that IDW has a number of other stops on the Mars Attacks train coming up.  There's only so many times they can go back to the land of Ghostbusters, Transformers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so Popeye was bound to pop up sooner or later.  Let's hope the next batch is some place more interesting.







Colder #3
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Paul Tobin
Illustrated by Juan Ferreyra
$3.99, 26 Pages

After living in a catatonic state for years with his body temperature slowly dropping, Declan has awoken.  Nimble Jack, a demented imp-like creature that feeds on insanity, sees him as a fine wine that's been aged to perfection.  Now Declan has to escape and keep Reece safe from Jack's clutches.  The first couple issues of Colder were all set up.  This issue is where the book really hits its stride and damn, is it impressive.

Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra have created the best visual explanation for madness I've ever seen.  Crazy people walk around in our world, but their minds are in another altogether, one that is twisted, broken, and devoid of color.  Declan hops a ride into this realm by touching a lunatic, but it comes at a cost.  It drains him of his energy and the fact that he's bringing Reece along isn't helping.  She's not used to this kind of weirdness.  You know how people go crazy after being exposed to Cthulu and the Elder Gods?  Same deal here.  Reece's entire perspective on things has been irreparably damaged. 

It's the first Wednesday of the year and Ferreyra has delivered what will easily be one of the absolute creepiest pages in horror comics of 2013.  Declan and Reece are running away from Nimble Jack when a homeless man stops them.  The man opens his mouth to reveal an eye, then opens further as Jack's face pop out until finally he rips open the homeless man's jaw, literally tearing him in half.  It's painful and gory and definitely the stuff that nightmares are made of. 

Colder is making sense of insanity, explaining it in a way that it incredibly logical.  Adding in a character like Nimble Jack makes it scary and unpredictable, but so damn fun to read.







Harvest #5
Published by Image Comics
Written by A.J. Lieberman
Illustrated by Colin Lorimer
$3.50, 32 Pages

This fast-paced black market medical thriller comes to a close...of sorts.  Disgraced doctor Ben Dane got fed up working for the mob, stitching up rich people who just bought organs from the lower class.  He decided to put things back where they belong and got a whole mess of trouble because of it.  With Jason Craven (the head of the operation) on one side and the FBI on the other, Ben has had better days.

Although he looks like a complete screw-up, Ben is a smart guy and works well under pressure.  He figured out a way to make everything work for him.  Sure there were some hiccups along the way, like that bullet he took to the stomach and the organ he "donated", but it could have been worse. 

Colin Lorimer laid out this issue like a movie.  It looks gorgeous.  Author A.J. Lieberman let's Lorimer set the stage numerous times and Harvest is better for it.  There are some panels in this comic that speak volumes.  They're uncluttered by speech balloons so the art has room to breathe.  Lorimer has a talent for art direction and keeps the comic moving very quickly.

The ending felt like there should be something more, but it just ends.  Ben's mission is complete.  He finished what he set out to do when he broke free of the mob, but he's being pushed to do something else.  The book ends before any next steps are made or even decided upon. 

Harvest has a lot of twists and turns through its five-issue run.  I'll be the first to admit that I didn't catch all of them.  I forgot some stuff during the time between each chapter, but it's a fun ride.  I think this will make a great read when it's collected in a trade paperback.  If you liked Crank, you're going to love this comic.






Godzilla: The Half-Century War #4
Published by IDW Publishing
Written and Illustrated by James Stokoe
$3.99, 24 Pages

Another issue and another decade in the life of Ota, soldier of the now very diminished A.M.F.  His job has gone from actively hunting Godzilla to just sort of following him around and staying out of his way.  Very exciting stuff.  This time his journey brings him to Bombay, where MechaGodzilla is dropped in to try to take the big lizard down.  Meanwhile, Ota spots Deverich, the guy that betrayed the team at least a decade ago when he sold his Godzilla attracting system to the highest bidder.  It turns out he's perfected the technology to the point where it calls down ANOTHER Godzilla, this one from space. 

Godzilla: The Half-Century War and just about all of the other books in the IDW franchise really hammers down how completely helpless humanity is against these monsters.  There is virtually nothing we can do to stop these giant beasts.  The best we can do is move people around to avoid heavy casualties.  Damage and destruction are par for the course.  The idea that these things have been roaming the earth for forty years by this point and the best we can do is a big robot that gets knocked over within five minutes is pretty sad.  When does mankind just throw in the towel? 

James Stokoe's artwork is hit or miss.  When he gets close in on the characters, they look cartoonish and often silly.  However when he pulls back and shows the full scope of the battle, he underlines the true devastation that Godzilla has caused.  It makes it far more epic. 






Willow #3
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Jeff Parker and Christos Gage
Illustrated by Brian Ching
$2.99, 26 Pages

Willow's quest to restore magic to our world has brought her to a coven of witches from various dimensions.  She's also realized that she might both fail in her mission and be stranded here at the same time.  That's rough, but fortunately she has all these new friends to help her through it. Everything seems very Stepfordy with this group.  They mean well, but Willow is losing focus.  She's forgetting the importance of the task at hand and why she's set out to bring magic back in the first place.

Marrak is the only one that sees through the sexy alien witch haze and he's banished from the land as a result.  I'm still unsure about the character.  It seemed pretty obvious at first that he was using Willow to gain power and return to our world, but now he's trying to snap her out of this funk.  It would have a lot more meaning if Marrak's true identity was that of someone from the TV show, but I'm at a loss as to who it could be.  The only person I could think of would be Warren, who officially kicked the bucket at the end of Season 8 when Buffy destroyed the seed of magic in the first place.  Maybe he's been roaming around this other land looking for a way back. 

I really dig Brian Ching's artwork.  He reminds me of Karl Moline, one of the other signature Buffy artists, which is a good thing.  There are a number of strange creatures for Ching to play with in this issue.  The witches themselves come in all shapes and sizes, but the breakout is definitely the adorable little bouncing octupi.  Willow's reaction to them is one of glee and excitement and for good reason.  They're the kind of thing you'd want to have as a bathroom pet.  Holy crap.  I think I understand Pokemon now. 

Willow's journey has hit a roadblock, but she's not down and out yet.  Magic has defined her life and her role in the Scooby Gang.  Living with this coven would be convenient.  It would be an easy life.  If we've learned anything from the Buffy mythos, it's that nothing come easy, especially happiness.






Also on comic shelves this week, but not reviewed here...


  • I Vampire #15 (DC Comics)
  • Justice League Dark #15 (DC Comics)
  • Lot 13 #3 (DC Comics)
  • American Vampire #34 (Vertigo)
  • Vampirella Strikes #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
  • Blackacre #2 (Image Comics)
  • Morbius: The Living Vampire #1 (Marvel Comics)
  • Anti #3 (12-Gauge Comics)
  • Night Of The Living Dead: Aftermath #3 (Avatar Press)
  • Planet Of The Apes: Cataclysm #5 (BOOM! Studios)
  • Red Ten #1 (ComixTribe)
  • Bettie Page In Danger #6 (Shh Productions)
  • Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Sleepy Hollow #3 (Zenescope Entertainment)
  • Grimm Universe #2: Red Riding Hood (Zenescope Entertainment)


And a light week in graphic novel releases...


  • Fatale: Vol 2 - Devils Business (Image Comics)
  • Hack Slash: Vol 11 - Marry F$$k Kill (Image Comics)
  • Stephen King's Dark Tower Gunslinger: Man In Black (Marvel Comics)
  • Stephen King's Stand: Vol 5 - No Mans Land (Marvel Comics)


So that's what I thought of this week's horror comics, but I want to hear what you picked up this time around!  Let me know in the comments!


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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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